Nov 24, 2021 - News

Lawsuit win means sidewalk requirements remain

A close-up of someone's feet nearing the edge of a sidewalk on a cliff.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Metro quietly scored a crucial legal victory last week in a long-running dispute over the landmark sidewalk legislation that became law in 2017.

Why it matters: The court ruling defending Councilmember Angie Henderson's legislation means a stricter sidewalk requirement for developers will remain in place.

  • The sidewalk law requires home builders with developments on or near busy roads to either build new sidewalks or pay into a paving fund.

Driving the news: Led by libertarian think tank Beacon Center, plaintiffs sued the city last year seeking to throw out the law, calling it too onerous.

  • Federal judge Aleta Trauger sided with Metro last week.

What they're saying: Henderson tells Axios that Nashville is "woefully behind on walkable infrastructure due to a lack of sidewalk requirements for over 70 years."

  • "This was watershed legislation for Nashville's built environment, and when you deliver a county-wide land-use policy improvement like this, there will be some hiccups and unhappy people," Henderson says.

The other side: Beacon Center director of litigation Jason Coleman tells Axios an appeal to the Sixth Circuit is coming.

  • "This lawsuit boils down to property rights," Coleman says. "If Metro Nashville wants to solve its sidewalk problem, Metro should pay for them, rather than forcing private property owners to build them or pay into a fund for sidewalks that are built nowhere near their home."

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